In Swahili, the word safari translates to ‘journey’. In the literal sense of the word, it means traveling from one place to another; however, for the participants of Unstoppables Africa 2018, it also had a metaphorical meaning.
Seven days in East Africa allowed each individual to go on a journey of the mind, where their thought processes were elevated and their consciousness expanded, allowing them to see the world, and their role in it, from a different perspective. That was exactly what Unstoppables founder Julio De Laffitte had hoped for.
In fact, upon arrival in Kenya on 24 September 2018 – and foreseeing the changes that each individual would experience along the journey – he had warned the delegates to not make any life-changing decisions within seven days of returning home. “Parts of you will die in Africa,” he said. “Leave them there.”
What would unfold over the next week was an intensive program of workshops, discussions and activities – all of which were designed to push attendees towards collaboration, encourage them to question the status quo, and give them the tools necessary to instigate change for a better tomorrow.
Participants included early- and late-stage business entrepreneurs, directors and CEOs, and a handful of philanthropists from Australia and Brazil. They were of varying ages from a plethora of industries, and everyone had something different to share in terms of experience and insight.
Unstoppables Africa 2018 was the third in a series of events designed to bring together like-minded leaders in amazing locations around the world.
Events in previous years have been held in the freezing climes of Antarctica and the lush rainforests of the Amazon, before Africa was chosen this year for its dramatic landscapes and unique biodiversity – an environment that De Laffitte believed would ignite conversation, foster innovation and push people out of their comfort zones.
There were two locations for this ‘unconference’-style event. The first few days were spent at a resort overlooking the Maasai Mara National Reserve, before a private charter flight took everyone to the city of Eldoret for the final couple of days to see firsthand what a fellow Unstoppable, Dean Landy, was doing to make a difference to the lives of children in Africa.
In search of The Big Five
Kenya’s Maasai Mara is a huge area of preserved wilderness that is home to some of the world’s most incredible wildlife. Hordes of tourists flock to the dry, grassy plains each year to witness big game animals in their natural habitat.
This was the base for the first three nights of the Unstoppables adventure. The group stayed at the architecturally impressive Mara Serena Safari Lodge, in the heart of the Mara Triangle ecosystem, overlooking the plains from an elevation of one mile.
Each day, as the sun rose and then again as it set, everyone bundled into SUVs to cruise the reserve for a few hours in search of the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and buffalo). As the vehicles bounced along the dirt roads, the Unstoppables group had many moments to reflect on their journey so far and take in the beautiful surrounds.
They were privy to some special sights: a pride of lions feeding on a carcass before vultures swooped in to finish the job; a rhino and its calf (a rare and privileged sighting considering there are only 70 or so of the endangered species left in the entire 940-square-mile Maasai Mara due to poaching); two giraffes in a neck fight; a lone cheetah basking in the sun; and a dazzle of zebras kicking up the dust near a herd of wildebeest.
Between safari tours, time was spent in back-to-back professional development sessions facilitated by De Laffitte and fellow entrepreneur Judy Reynolds. De Laffitte has made a name for himself in finance with his investment company JDL Strategies. He is also a regular on the speaking circuit in Australia where he shares his expertise on wealth generation and start-ups.
Reynolds is a business coach and the Director and CEO of Opening Gates. She uses her background in accounting and financial planning to connect the human elements with the numbers in an effort to ramp up success for businesses and individuals.
The duo led a number of sessions that followed the common thread of finding, fueling and channeling inner purpose. Intentions were set each day, superpower strengths were unearthed, and levels of awareness analyzed.
A discussion was held on whether competition and collaboration could ever successfully co-exist, and everyone was given the opportunity to pitch a business idea to potential investors in the room. Each delegate began to look inwards to consider how they could play a bigger role back home.
The group also heard the stories of others who are actively trying to change the world for the better. Unstoppables delegate David Carter, CEO of Austral Fisheries, shared his commitment to helping the environment, outlining some of the strategies his company has put in place to ensure sustainability in the fishing industry.
Special guest Louise Cottar gave a presentation on responsible tourism and spoke about how Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp, which she runs with her husband, Calvin, is a member of The Long Run – a membership group of nature-based tourism businesses committed to driving sustainability. Cottar’s is one of only 10 Global Ecosphere Retreats, encompassing the four Cs – conservation, community, culture and commerce.
Finally, Dean Landy, a partner at Australian architecture firm ClarkeHopkinsClarke, shared his journey of social activism. He founded One Heart Foundation in 2007 in a bid to break the cycle of poverty in Kenya. Landy’s story was an introduction to part two of the Unstoppables Africa 2018 adventure – a visit to One Heart Village in Turbo, Eldoret, where the group would experience firsthand the work he is doing through his elementary school, orphanage and other programs.
The heart of Unstoppables
As the plane landed on the tarmac of the Eldoret airstrip, the delegates did not anticipate the warm welcome they were about to receive. More than a dozen school-aged children had formed a lively procession – saxophones, flutes and clarinets in hand – and started playing a rendition of the popular Kenyan song ‘Jambo Bwana’ (Hello Sir).
After half a dozen more tunes – including the Australian National Anthem and ‘Happy Birthday’ for an Unstoppable who was celebrating their birthday that day – friendly handshakes, hellos and thank yous were exchanged before the Unstoppables piled into the canary yellow One Heart School and Orphanage bus to be taken to their base for the next two nights, Eldoret’s Boma Inn.
Everyone was eager to learn more about the Foundation and meet the children whose lives had already been changed through its work. One Heart is “the heart of Unstoppables”, De Laffitte had said to the group a number of times, further emphasizing the importance of this part of the journey.
The next 48 hours were rather emotional. Heartstrings were especially tugged at a rescue center where the Unstoppables listened to the stories of children who had been abandoned by their families. Some of the boys and girls would eventually get the opportunity to move into care at the One Heart Village, but only as more beds became available and sponsorship was secured.
The Unstoppables’ visit to the Village was more uplifting; a narrative of hope. The children there were optimistic about their future, clearly empowered to dream big and believe that they could achieve anything they put their minds to.
Some wanted to be doctors, others pilots or journalists. They knew nothing was out of reach if they worked hard. Landy told the group that the Foundation strongly believed education was the key to breaking the poverty cycle.
The Unstoppables cohort shared most of the day with the children and staff at the Village. They chatted, played games, danced and ate marshmallows around a bonfire as the sun set.
Of his motivation to start One Heart Foundation, Landy told the Unstoppables that he wanted to actively design his purpose and legacy. “A defining moment for me was when I shifted the idea of how I look at legacy,” he shared.
“Legacy is often defined by your legal will – what you’ll leave behind for your kids. But I think we need to shift that frame of mind from wealth, property and anything physical, although I know that’s still part of it, to what you can leave right now. For me, that’s the real power of legacy – what I’m leaving in my immediate ‘shadow’, rather than the long-term view of what will happen once I leave this world. And when I say shadow, I mean the impression I make on people, places and the environment.
I want my legacy to be intentional, not left to chance.”
Time to reflect and take action
As the Unstoppables Africa 2018 journey came to a close, the delegates packed their bags with their minds whirling full of new inspiration, ideas and information.
Against the backdrop of orange-hued savannas, the Big Five, cultural experiences, social activism and environmentalism, they had looked deep into their egos, intellects and hearts. Some had reconnected with their purpose, others had pondered over what they truly wanted it to be.
One thing clear to everyone thought was that this journey had changed them in some way. It had inspired them, empowered them, and opened their minds to a bigger picture of what they could become in both their professional and personal lives.
To find out more about Unstoppables and get involved with the next life-changing adventure, visit unstoppables.com.au